Las Vegas, May 29, 2015
I was almost falling apart before this event. I was so ready to play that I woke up at 6 AM and only wanted to get started already. I really, really felt like playing again. To a degree that I was afraid it would be too much.
After several painful hours not being able to play, I could finally start at 4 PM local time. When it was 4 PM we were only two at the table. That is usually a bad sign since bad players often show up early. The good ones don’t care about missing one hand in the start very often. For me when it’s shootout, I want to play every hand. For regular tournaments I don’t mind coming a little late though.
Anyway, it didn’t take long before the table was 7-handed. And there were quite a few good players, with Paul Volpe (paulgees81 online) and Shannon Shorr being the two most difficult opponents. Paul has won over $ 3M live and over $ 5M online and Shannon is closing in on $ 6M in live tournament winnings. They are considered two of the best tournament players in the world, and I understand why. They are both a pain in the ass to play against.
The first 3 levels I played pretty tight and especially the first 2 I played super tight. I usually do that in the start of shootouts and sit and goes. Especially when I’m up against quality players. And I also had very few quality hands, so I didn’t mind folding a lot. I was able to semi bluff a few time to keep my 15k starting stack in the area from 13k to 17k. I went to first break with 17,600, which was my peak so far.
We were still 7-handed after the break, which was also the end of the late registration. But one person was able to come into my table late, Christian Harder (charder30 online). He is also a very tough tournament player having won over $ 3M each for live and online tournaments. I was expecting a lot from him, but he never got any momentum going, and he hardly won a pot.
After the break, things started to happen. I was defending my SB with A8hh against a pretty tight player. I like to defend with these types of hands against most players, since you can get lucky and get paid well. We played 100/200-25. He raised to 500 and I called from the SB. The BB folded. The flop was 8-8-6 with the 6 or hearts. Pretty nice, I have to admit. I check-raised his 700-bet to 1,500. He called. On the turn came 10 of hearts. I wasn’t complaining. I checked again and he bet 2900. He had about 7k behind and I was pretty sure he would have checked behind on any river so I decided to put him all in. He took some time to call with pocket queens. No lady on the river and I was closing in on 30k.
At this point we were 3 players in the 30k area, Rob Tinnion (robtinnion on PokerStars and Full Tilt) being one of them. He is a player I hadn’t seen before, but I found out that he had shipped the PokerStars Sunday Million twice in 5 months. He was a very unpredictable player, which opened 3x usually, and had a lot of play in him. The two others were Paul Volpe and yours truly.
I had been 3-betting Paul, which sat to my direct right, quite a bit - maybe too much.
This time I did it with A-3 of diamond (which was a hand I did it with 3 times against him for some weird reason). This time he called me. Flop was Q-7-3 with two clubs. He check-called my bet. Turn 6 of clubs. Again he check-called. Ouch. The river was a red 4. He checked again. I was very close to checking behind and give up, but I didn’t think he was very strong so I fired again. Not necessarily the smartest thing to do against a very capable player. He though about it for a long time and called with pocket 8s. Crap. I wasn’t very happy with my play in this pot.
For a while after the Paul opened half the pots, making me regret my play even more.
Right before the 2nd break I raised in early position with K-Q off to 900 (playing 200/400-50) Rob 3-bet me from the button to 3,000. Very often this is a fold from me, but I didn’t really believe him and I like to see flops. The flop was 2-2-4. I check-called his 2,200 bet. On the turn it came a 6. I checked again and he bet 4,500. I felt a lot of weakness still, and decided that I would give it a shot and raised to 11,000. Rob folded pretty fast saying that if he had anything, he would have pushed all in. Then I showed the bluff. Maybe not a smart thing to do, but I wasn’t going to bluff a lot more on this table for a while, so I thought it was okay.
I went to break with 46k, and was with that the chip leader with 5 players left on my table.
After the break I got pocket Aces UTG playing 250/500-50. I made it 1,000 and it was fold around to Rob that reraised to 2,800. I then made it 6,600, and Rob pushed all in. Needless to say, I called. He had pocket jacks and got no help. Now I had about 60k playing 4-handed with 117k in play. Both Shannon Shorr and Paul Volpe were still in it, so I wasn’t feeling to comfortable yet.
Shannon knocked out Paul and suddenly he got a healthy stack. After a while with 3-handed play where Shannon and I picked up most of the pots I knocked out the last short stack, Brazilian Thiago Nishijima, getting kings vs. queen that held up.
Starting the heads-up I had 70k+ and Shannon had 40k+. I felt that this was going to go my way from then. But that didn’t happen. Shannon is good. Not only good. He is very good. And I played too weak against him in the start letting him grind away and even take over the chip lead. So I decided that I had to change my style a bit. I decided to play very aggressively. This worked a lot better for me, and I was soon able to regain my lead and I also got a bit lucky in a couple of pots.
I had been 3- and 4-betting him a lot, very often pushing him all-in. In the end I got caught when I did it with A-10 when he had about 25k left. He snapped with A-J. The flop came K-10-rag and after that it held for me. It was a lucky end to a very interesting day.
We will continue play today at 2 PM today local time. We will only be playing 4 handed where the winners will go to the final table. Let’s do this. One time!